Monday, December 14, 2009

The Eastpointer

Your Health Care Story

By Richard E. Noble

I was "surfing" the web the other day and I hit onto this site that was asking people to tell them their health care story. I felt that I didn't really have a health care story, so I moved on. But since that time I can't stop thinking about my health care story.
When I was just eight or ten years old my favorite uncle, Uncle Joe, died. He had to have his appendix removed. It was supposed to be a routine operation. My Uncle Joe was a World War II veteran and he served in the Pacific. He came down with malaria when he was in the jungles over there and as a consequence they discovered or he became allergic to penicillin. For some reason the folks at the hospital where he was having his appendix removed, missed that detail. A week later he was dead.
A few years after my Uncle Joe passed, my dad complained one evening of having chest pains. He was very worried. His father had the same problem and died before he reached the age of fifty. It seems that he was complaining about chest pains also. They found him laying dead in the doorway of a storefront that he ducked into on his way home from work at the mill.
My dad called the local Doctor. The Doctor came to your home in those days. He told my dad it was probably just indigestion. My dad bought some Rolaids but they didn't help. Finally he walked up to the local hospital. But, they weren't as knowledgeable about heart problems back in those days. They gave him a quick once over and he picked up another package of Rolaids on his walk home.
That evening I heard my dad talking with my older brother at the kitchen table. He felt that he was probably going to die and he was giving my older brother advice on what to do when he was gone. The next morning all us kids woke up to the screaming panic of my mother. We all got to watch my father take his last breathes before the Doctor and the priest arrived.
My mother was doing pretty well until she got into her sixties. She started to have some sort of heart valve problem. All us grown kids had a family meeting. My older brother had spoken to the Doctor. The Doctor told him that my mother would need a heart valve replacement operation or she would be dead within six months. My mother had no insurance and none of her kids could afford to pay for such an operation. We told my mother what the Doctor had said and she said that she would just have to take her chances. She didn't have the operation.
My mother was very lucky. The Doctor's prognosis did not come true. She took some kind of heart pill for the rest of her life but she lived well into her seventies.
My older brother was a unique case. He had plenty of insurance – maybe too much insurance. It seemed that he was having some new procedure done every year. Finally he had a heart problem. He had bad valves just like my mother. He managed to survive the heart operation, but like 94,000 other Americans, he caught something while in the hospital. He got an infection – septicemia. He died a few years back. He was sixty-six when he died.
My sister is still alive but she has had some big problems. She has always worked in the medical field and lucky for her she has always been insured by her employers. A number of years ago she had a brain tumor. They had to cut a section of her skull out. She survived and only ended up losing her sense of smell.
Next, her Doctor prescribed some type of cholesterol medicine. Suddenly she was a cripple in a wheel chair. There was a large class action suit against the drug company who manufactured the cholesterol medicine that she had been taking. My sister would not join the suit. She had worked all her life in the medical field for doctors and in hospitals. She felt that it would be immoral to sue the people who had provided her with a living all of her life.
A few years have now gone by and she is walking again and getting herself around. She just turned seventy-two.
At 65, I finally qualified for Medicare. I never had any kind of health care. No employer who I ever worked for provided insurance and I never earned enough to buy it for myself. I avoided doctors and hospitals all my life
I went for my Medicare one time, free physical. The doctor found blood in my stool. I was sent for a colonoscopy. I had cancer of the colon. I went for surgery. I had a heart attack while recuperating from the colon cancer operation. They wanted to rush me into a triple by-pass, heart surgery. I had three areas seriously blocked, I was told. I refused.
I was too weak. I knew that I would never survive a second major operation without being given the time to regain my strength from the first major operation.
They allowed me to go home but I was advised to return as soon as possible for open heart surgery.
As I regained my strength I went for a second opinion. I found a local cardiologist who was prepared to treat me by non-surgical methods – External Pulsation Therapy. I am alive and feeling very good.
My wife turned 65 and she too was now qualified for Medicare. She was frightened because of my experiences to go to any doctor and take any test. With pressure from our local GP and from me she finally went for her necessary tests. Thank heavens everything seems to be OK.
I now need to have all my teeth pulled. My wife got hers pulled before my operation started when we still had extra money. The bulk of our discretionary income now goes to insurance premiums and medicine.
My wife and I are both aspiring Wall-mart employees. Neither of us has ever made $10 per hour in our lives.
And that’s my health care story … so far.

Richard E. Noble is a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for over thirty years. He has published 6 books and they are now available on If you would like to stock my books in your store or business, contact Noble Publishing at for discount purchases.

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